Safety proposals pushed after Whakaari review

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Proposals aimed at improving safety standards for registered adventure activities have opened for public consultation today. 

The move was made in response to the Whakaari/White Island tragedy in December 2019, when 22 people died following an eruption at the popular activity destination.

The proposals aim to reinforce safety standards in registered adventure activities and include strengthening requirements for how operators, landowners and the regulator manage natural hazard risks, improving how risks are monitored, assessed and communicated, supporting WorkSafe’s strengthened regulatory leadership role and improving the safety audit standard, audit process and guidance and information for the sector.

“The Whakaari White Island eruption was a devastating tragedy that meant 22 people sadly lost their lives,” says the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Wood.

“We are committed to learning the lessons to reduce the risk of a similar incident happening.”

Minister Wood directed the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to undertake a targeted review of how adventure activities are regulated in light of the Whakaari tragedy. 

That review found that whilst the regulatory regime within the sector is performing reasonably well, several areas could be improved. 

The review also found that there is a high rate of harm from natural hazard events in adventure activities which has not decreased over time. On average, six people die in adventure activities per year, with four of these caused by natural hazard events.

“A review of the adventure activities regime showed that the regime is performing reasonably well, but identified areas which could be strengthened,” Wood admits. 

“We are proposing a number of changes to strengthen it and raise safety standards.

“Adventure activities are a key part of our tourism sector. Prior to Covid-19, as many as one in three international tourists took part in at least one adventure activity. It’s important we provide as safe as possible experiences for New Zealanders and international visitors once our borders reopen.

“We intend to work in partnership with the sector to achieve change and I encourage tourism stakeholders, business owners and operators to look through the proposals and submit on them.”

The consultation into the adventure activities regime opens today and will close at 5pm, Friday, November 5 2021.

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